Mistaken identity


Remember the days before remote locking!  You actually had to unlock the front doors individually, but these days you push the button as you approach the car, it responds with a beep-beep and unlocks everything!

It was 1987 and I was in the UK where I was given a new Rover 825i to test for the two week duration of my trip (motor manufacturers in Thailand who expect full road tests after one drive around the block, please take note).

Rover 825i Rover 825i

The Rover 825i was the finest machine in the MG Rover stable.  With mechanicals from the Honda Legend it had all the Japanese quality, with all the snob appeal of the ‘very British’ Rover badge, Westminster carpet on the floor and some polished English oak tree on the dashboard!  It also came with remote locking, and the MG Rover chap showed me how it worked, and how the infra-red remote receiver was behind the internal rear vision mirror.

However, after a trip to the Nurburgring in Germany, on returning to the UK, I found a problem I never expected.  The remote locking failed!

I had gone for lunch in one of those quaint English style pubs.  After lunch I picked up the car keys and ventured outside into the crisp, cold British air and strolled down towards the Rover 825i in the car park.  As I walked towards it, I pushed the unlock button, but nothing happened.  No beep-beep and flashing lights.  Obviously I was too far away, so I walked closer and pushed the magic button again.  Still nothing!

It was then I remembered the MG Rover chappie telling me about the IR receiver behind the interior rear vision mirror.  Looking through the windscreen I could even see it, a red bulb behind the mirror.  I pointed the remote at the red bulb and expectantly pressed the button.  Nothing!

I lay down on the bonnet of the car, so that I could get the remote on the windscreen, as close as possible to the red bulb receiver.  With a determined thumb I pressed the button – and still nothing.

Suddenly I heard this very British voice saying, “I say old chap, just what do you think you are doing?”  I turned round and there was the archetypal Briton, cap and tweed jacket, and bristling with anger.  “I am trying to open my car, but the remote unlocking device does not work,” I replied.  “That’s because this is not your car, this is my car,” said the crusty and now angry Brit.

He then went on to say, “Your Rover is the one further down the car park, in the next line!”  I looked at where he was pointing, and there it was.  I pointed the remote, pushed and it beeped and flashed the lights.  With burning shame, I could only apologize profusely and offer him a warm beer.  He declined, muttering something about the fact that he was still sober and knew what he was doing!

I am sure I am not the only one to have had this embarrassment!